Being Afraid. Being Very Afraid

Fear has changed from when I was a kid. I remember many chest-tightening moments. Things that made me want to turn on lights, seek out my parents, or hide under the the protective layers of blankets.

Our cold, dark basement. Oompa Loompas. Body Snatchers. All filled me with terror at one point or another.

Eventually, I realized those fears were just based on not knowing. The basement was scary when viewed from the stairwell above, but once you went down there and clicked on some lights. It was just a basement. Just piles of toys, boxes filled with Christmas decorations, or laundry humming and spinning in a faint Downy haze.

Once you turned on the light or turned off the channel, it seemed like there was no place left to place the fear. Taking back the power made it all okay.

My adult fears seem different. Every time my daughter is out of my sight I imagine all the worst possible things that can happen. I get afraid to try new things, to put myself out in the world subject to judgement or ridicule. I get philosophical fears about not living up to my potential and I get unavoidable fears about deaths in the family. Fears that were so simple in childhood have morphed into adult anxieties and worries.

There are still some ways to 'turns on lights' and chase away the unknowns, but some fears are just going to always be there. They're no longer imaginary. I guess the deal with being a grown-up is that you get to be afraid of things that are real and pulse-poundingly scary, but you just have to keep going anyway.

If childhood fears are about not knowing, maybe adult fears are about knowing. Knowing that some things are worth worrying about.

Cheers to the fears, and going into the basement anyway.